Tessy Igomu, Lagos
- Twelve people have been rescued so far.
- Eights victims are recorded to have suffered severe burns and have been taken to the Burns unit at Gbagada General hospital for treatment.
- The other four injured are at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LUTH).
- The two mortalities have been deposited at the morgue in Yaba
Two people were burnt to death, while several others sustained severe burn injuries in a fire incident that engulfed the Last Bus Stop area of Ijegun, in the Igando-Ikotun Local Council Development Area of Lagos State, on Thursday. Over 30 vehicles, shops and houses were consumed by the inferno.
Most of the property burnt were in close proximity to a canal where petrol fuel was emptied into. A part of Ijegun Comprensive High School was affected as well as a filling station, Abamat Oil Nigeria Ltd.
The fire, according to residents, started at about 5 am, following fuel bunkering activities that led to petrol spilling into a drainage that snaked through the Ijegun community.
A resident disclosed that the bunkerers arrived the area at about 1:30 am with trucks and were on their way out of the area after syphoning fuel from a vandalised pipeline, when one of their tankers fell and spilled its content.
Most residents reported they were jolted from sleep by deafening explosions that rocked the area, causing them to scamper for safety. Most of the devastation was recorded on Awe Lumake Street. It was also where the two victims of the inferno were trapped and burnt to death. Their charred remains were covered with sheaths, awaiting evacuation.
A resident of the street, Femi Agbola, reports that at about 4 am he started perceiving the smell of petroleum when quickly raised an alarm. He said that the fire had yet to start then. He disclosed that one of fire victims was a commercial bust driver and that he was warned to leave his vehicle as it was too dangerous to start the engine.
“The man did not listen to us and said he wants to pick early morning passengers. At a point, he begged us to help him push the vehicles to a point. When we realised he wanted to start the engine, we all ran away. The next thing we heard was an explosion and the man covered in flames. He ran with fire into the canal, unfortunately, the canal was in flames also,” Agbola recalled the dreadful scene.
The dead man was later identified by his neighbour, Catherine igbokwe, as Austin Japan.
Hassan Umoru, a security man that escaped death by the whiskers, said the second victim was a fellow security man. He also disclosed that he was trying to locate the exact place the spill was coming from when he heard the first explosion.
Speaking on the fire incident, the Chief Executive Officer of The Lagos State Emergency Agency (LASEMA), Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu said on arrival it was gathered that vandals had engaged in fuel bunkering activities where an NNPC pipeline was buried.
He disclosed that the vandals had already siphoned petrol into a 33,000 litre tanker, with a second tanker of the same capacity being loaded before they were intercepted by security operatives. In an attempt to escape, some of the siphoned fuel spilled into the drainage, with the vandals allegedly setting their vehicle on fire in a bid to deter the security agents from apprehending them, Osanyintolu said.
“The fire then spread back to the pipeline, the point where the vandals had siphoned the fuel and exploded. The fire escalated, leading to 2 fatalities and over 30 vehicles burnt. The actual loss will be determined upon conducting post disaster enumeration after the fire has been put out.”
Responders at the scene include fire officials of the Lagos State Fire Service, NSCDC, Nigeria Police Force, and other agencies.
Speaking on the incident, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Spokesperson for South West, Ibrahim Farinloye, said the management of the NNPC were immediately alerted about the fire outbreak at and the safety unit of the Corporation, and immediately shut down supplies to the affected pipeline in order to stop the fire.
He noted that vandals were responsible for the incident and some of them were affected by the inferno.
Farinloye said security agencies have cordoned off the area to stop it from being accessed by undesirable elements
He advised people in the area to remain calm and go about their normal businesses.